Pretoria - Golden Lions interim coach Johan Ackermann believes the tries his side scored on either side of the half-time break gave them the confidence they needed for their rare 32-23 Currie Cup victory over the Blue Bulls at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday.
There was somewhat of a stalemate up until minutes before the break when the Lions scored their first try of the match to launch them into the lead.
“I think the try just before half-time gave the guys some confidence and luckily we were able to take it through to the second half,” Ackermann said.
“The backline was good but the forwards laid a good foundation from there.”
Ackermann said while the side started out shakily they pulled through for a victory he was happy about no matter the venue.
“I had a good feeling after I spoke to the guys before the match and I could feel that they looked mentally better than last week and the attitude was right,” he said.
“But I also knew both sides were with their backs against the wall and it would be tough, especially that first 20 minutes.”
With less teams contesting the title, ergo there are also less matches and a smaller margin for error.
With their victory the Lions move into the second position on the log on 15 points at the halfway mark, but the positions have proven to constantly change.
“This competition is so equal, week after week you have to perform well and if you are just a little bit off your game you are going to make it hard for yourself,” Ackermann said.
This reality seemed to have hit Blue Bulls coach Pine Pienaar like a ton of bricks as he admitted that the pressure was now on his side, which dropped into the last position on the log.
“One knows you are under massive pressure and we’ve lost two matches consecutively and we are last on the log,” Pienaar said.
“The reality is you have five games left and you will have to win all five of them otherwise you are not going to make it.”
Pienaar said the side let themselves down defensively and the amount of unforced errors they made.
“What cost us was that try just before half-time and just after the break and from thereon you are in a position where you are chasing the game,” he said.
“If you are chasing you are forcing passes and overturn possession.
“I thought we played good rugby at times and did the right things but once again we played against ourselves and made too many mistakes.”
The Bulls mentor was scathing of some individuals’ defensive efforts and added that he would have make employ some measures to remedy the problem.
“You can put guys there in a channel and you expect them and want them to make the tackle,” Pienaar said.
“If they can’t make the the tackle the whole side is under pressure.
“This week we came up short with that and it is something we will have to have a look at and maybe there are other guys that can tackle.”